After a four-year partnership with Rapha, Team Sky has announced a new partnership with Castelli clothing at the Rouleur Classic event in London. Beginning in 2017, the partnership is expected to last at least three years.
Retaining the iconic black and blue colours of previous Team Sky kits, the 2017 design features data driven graphics representing some of Team Sky's victories over the past seven seasons. The classic Breton striped shirt served as inspiration for the kit, whilst each line depicts WorldTour (a blue line) and non-WorldTour (a white line) victories. The length of each line depicts the duration of the race victories, from one-day races through to full-width lines representing three-week Grand Tour victories.
The data lines showcased below the chest on the jersey showcase the wins of the 2017 Team Sky squad, with the exception of the lower full-width line paying homage to Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France win in 2012. The data lines of other Team Sky victories will be shown on the socks, bibshorts, mitts and caps of the team kit.
Team Sky team principal, Dave Brailsford, who was instrumental in the data driven design discusses the idea behind the kit, "we wanted to find a way of celebrating the success we have had as a team, but also to make sure we keep our mind firmly on the future. As a team, we still have an enormous amount of goals we want to achieve."
The Italian influence
Italian brand Castelli trace their roots back to a Milanese tailor founded in 1876. With a rich sporting heritage, the brand has supported the Milan ballet, as well as football giants AC Milan and Juventus. Moving into cycling in the 1910s, Castelli has been worn by cycling heroes Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. Maurizio Castelli introduced the Scorpion trademark in 1974 and was the first person in the brand to see clothing as performance equipment. Cyclingnews understands Castelli were picked by Team Sky from a range of potential suitors.
Speaking to Cyclingnews earlier this week by phone, Steve Smith, Castelli's brand manager, said "it's incredibly satisfying to be picked by Team Sky. We are always pushing our technical innovation and it's really nice to get the recognition." With a potential deal of more than twelve months on the table, Castelli have been working directly with Team Sky's riders and staff to showcase their products throughout this time.
Smith adds "We've consistently been at the forefront of technical clothing progression in the pro peloton. We want to continue this, not only for the advantage of the Team Sky riders, but so that the innovation also reaches the general public." It is expected that many of the new Team Sky X Castelli range will be available to buy in cycling retailers from January.
Brailsford adds, "They will be more than a kit supplier; they will be an innovation partner. Castelli has a long history of breaking new ground when it comes to kit and design."
Team Sky's Italian influence is prominent. The team also recently announced a four-year extension with Italian frame builders Pinarello, whilst also been equipped with Kask helmets and Fizik saddles. Team Sky is renowned for its demands for new product development with its partners. Castelli suggested that they have a number of new products in the pipeline, which will be a direct outcome of the partnership with Team Sky.
"Team Sky's relentless pursuit of results means they expect the maximum from their technical partners. We're looking forward to being pushed," explained Smith. "But the Team Sky internal performance group will be an invaluable resource to help us make sure that every rider has an advantage."
Each athlete will receive 64 different on-bike products as well as "training in how to dress like a pro."